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Ten Great Books set in the Australian Outback

3rd April 2021

The Australian Outback is the latest location for us to visit in our Great Books series. Ten Great Books set in the Australian Outback.The Outback is the colloquial name for the vast, unpopulated and mainly arid areas that comprise Australia’s interior and remote coasts. The Red Centre, in the Northern Territory, exemplifies the Outback. Its gateway is the isolated town of Alice Springs and its landmarks include Uluru, Australia’s iconic red-rock monolith. In the north, Kakadu National Park has Aboriginal rock paintings and billabong oxbow lakes.

‘Let’s grab a slab from the bottle-o for our piss-up later.’ – Australian expression meaning ‘Let’s get a beer from the off licence for our party later’

Ten Great Books set in the Australian OutbackThe Dry by Jane Harper

Set 500 miles from Melbourne

Amid the worst drought to ravage Australia in a century, it hasn’t rained in small country town Kiewarra for two years. Tensions in the community become unbearable when three members of the Hadler family are brutally murdered. Everyone thinks Luke Hadler, who committed suicide after slaughtering his wife and six-year-old son, is guilty.

Policeman Aaron Falk returns to the town of his youth for the funeral of his childhood best friend, and is unwillingly drawn into the investigation. As questions mount and suspicion spreads through the town, Falk is forced to confront the community that rejected him twenty years earlier. Because Falk and Luke Hadler shared a secret, one which Luke’s death threatens to unearth. And as Falk probes deeper into the killings, secrets from his past and why he left home bubble to the surface as he questions the truth of his friend’s crime

Down Outback Roads by Alissa Callen

Kree Garrett’s younger brother Seth is all the family she has left, so when he goes missing in the Australian outback, she doesn’t think twice about leaving her American home to find him. When Seth is rescued Kree vows to find a way to thank the small town of Glenalla. It isn’t long before she falls in love with the tight-knit rural community. But is it really the town she’s falling for?

Ewan Mackenzie has given up everything for his brother’s family, but he can never give enough to assuage his guilt at what happened one dark night, years ago . . . Ewan knows he doesn’t deserve a second chance at happiness, but when beautiful, open-hearted Kree stays to fight to save his home town, he finds it hard to keep his distance.

Can Kree and Ewan leave their pasts behind for long enough to find a future together?

Flight to Coorah Creek by Janet Gover

What happens when you can fly, but you just can’t hide? Only Jessica Pearson knows the truth when the press portray her as the woman who betrayed her lover to escape prosecution. But will her new job flying an outback air ambulance help her sleep at night or atone for a lost life?

Doctor Adam Gilmore touches the lives of his patients, but his own scars mean he can never let a woman touch his heart.

Runaway Ellen Parkes wants to build a safe future for her two children. Without a man … not even one as gentle as Jack North.

In Coorah Creek, a town on the edge of nowhere, you’re judged by what you do, not what people say about you. But when the harshest judge is the one you see in the mirror, there’s nowhere left to hide.

Ten Great Books set in the Australian OutbackHeist by Robert Schofield

‘Ford laid his fingertips gently on the cut in his shoulder where the bullet had clipped him. His best chance would be to hitch a ride south at the first opportunity, before the police started looking for him. He was alone, enveloped in the monstrous silence of the desert. Free and alone, without assistance and without excuse.’

Left for dead in the desert, framed as the inside man in a bullion robbery at the remote mine site where he works, and fearing that his daughter and ex-wife have been abducted from their home in Perth, Ford must cross a thousand miles of wilderness to find his family.

Ford forms a fragile alliance with Doc and Banjo, a pair of fugitive bikers, and Kavanagh, a cop from the Gold Stealing Detection Unit who’s found herself shut out of the case. As this unlikely team sets out across the Outback, they are pursued by cops, mercenaries and bikers, each group with its own agenda for preventing Ford from reaching Perth and uncovering a conspiracy that spreads through the upper strata of Western Australian life.

The Lost Man by Jane Harper

Two brothers meet at the remote border of their vast cattle properties under the unrelenting sun of the outback. In an isolated part of Australia, they are each other’s nearest neighbour, their homes hours apart.

They are at the stockman’s grave, a landmark so old that no one can remember who is buried there. But today, the scant shadow it casts was the last hope for their middle brother, Cameron. The Bright family’s quiet existence is thrown into grief and anguish.

Something had been troubling Cameron. Did he choose to walk to his death? Because if he didn’t, the isolation of the outback leaves few suspects…

Wed, Then Dead on The Ghan by Hazel Edwards

Sleuth Quinn is on ‘The Ghan’ booked to celebrate a ‘real”wedding at the sunrise breakfast stop out in the Australian desert at Marla. But things go wrong.
The train manager has devised an Agatha Christie role-playing mystery to attract international fans.Themed tourism is trending. Onboard Agatha Christie fans joke about ‘Murder on the Orient Express’.
Intriguingly the ‘Wed, Then Dead on the Ghan’ offers opportunities to ‘dress up’, find clues and act out the mystery while seeing wildlife and the star eco-beauty of the desert.
Quinn deals with the Scandinavian Book Club members passionate to see ‘kangaroos’ ,opal fraud, missing indigenous artifacts,inheritances and the mystique of long distance train travel.
Plus performing a wedding for the descendant of one of the original Ghan cameleers. ‘Wed,Then Dead on The Ghan’ is not what the role-playing tourists expected.
Fiction becomes fact.

Everybody Jam by Ali Lewis

Danny Dawson lives in the middle of the Australian outback. His older brother Jonny was killed in an accident last year but no-one ever talks about it.

And now it’s time for the annual muster. The biggest event of the year on the cattle station, and a time to sort the men from the boys. But this year things will be different: because Jonny’s gone and Danny’s determined to prove he can fill his brother’s shoes: because their fourteen-year-old sister is pregnant: because it’s getting hotter and hotter and the rains won’t come: because cracks are beginning to show . . .

When Danny’s mum admits she can’t cope, the family hires a housegirl to help out – a wide-eyed English backpacker. She doesn’t have a clue what she’s let herself in for. And neither do they.

Ten Great Books set in the Australian OutbackBaggage by Emily Barr

At eighteen, your closest friend commits suicide.

At twenty-nine, you’re backpacking in the Australian outback when you see her. She has a husband. She has a ten-year-old son. She has a baby on the way. She claims to be someone else. But you’d recognise her anywhere.

Back in England you tell your journalist boyfriend. While he never knew her, he always knew of her – her name is Daisy Fraser and she was awaiting trial over the deaths of four people when she jumped off the Severn Bridge. He thinks: This could be the scoop of the century. He says: Happy Christmas – I’m taking you to Australia to find Daisy.

Nights in the Asylum by Carol Lefevre

Written in spare yet sensuous prose, Nights in the Asylum is the story of three people seeking shelter: it is also a story of home, of belonging, of leaving one home and trying to make another, where-ever and how-ever you can. Stricken with grief and guilt following the death of her daughter, Miri flees the city for the quiet calm of Havana Gardens, a once fine but now dilapidated mansion built for her grandmother. On the road she rescues Aziz, an Afghan refugee on the run from detention: then, in the attic of the old house, Miri discovers Suzette Moran and her baby daughter hiding, and grants them refuge. Slowly, in the hot confined spaces of the house, the three runaways unravel their stories, but when Suzette’s policeman husband comes looking for her, it sparks a chain of events that will disrupt their already fragile peace.…

The Broken Shore by Ashley Shelby

Aussie Outback realism, this is a Sunday Times Bestseller. Joe Cashin is sent to the outback to recuperate from a botched stake out. Based in Port Munro a wealthy citizen is beaten to death in his home. Three teenage Aborigines, are charged with the crime. Prejudice against the Aborigines is central theme to this novel. Cashin is not convinced of their guilt, and he uses his own skills to determine the true culprit (s).

Enjoy your virtual trip to the Australian Outback!  Any titles we’ve missed, add them in Comments below…

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  1. User: Avva

    Posted on: 27/06/2023 at 5:41 pm

    “Of Sand and Stars” by Brenda Kate is a new romantic suspense novel from the Australian Outback. Well worth the read, especially if you know anything about the stars, but even if you don’t. I loved it!


  2. User: Sharmeen Vora

    Posted on: 26/03/2022 at 4:26 am

    The Broken Shore is written by Peter Temple and not by Ashley Shelby.